This post first appeared at Mother Jones.
While a complex web of factors have contributed to the rise in income inequality in America, a new research paper says most of the blame can be largely placed in the immense growth experienced by the top 10th of the richest 1 percent of Americans in recent years. From the report:
The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1 percent wealth share, from 7 percent in 1979 to 22 percent in 2012, a level almost as high as in 1929. The bottom 90 percent wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined. The increase in wealth concentration is due to the surge of top incomes combined with an increase in saving rate inequality.
So, who are the 0.1 percent among us? According to Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the paper’s researchers, the elite group is a small one, roughly composed of 160,000 families with assets exceeding $20 million, but their grip on America’s wealth distribution is about to surpass the bottom 90 percent for the first time in more than half a century. Today’s 0.1 percent also tend to be younger than the top incomers of the 1960s, despite the fact that the country as a whole has been living longer — proving once again, that there has truly never been a more opportune time to be rich in America: